North Carolina’s Compassionate Care Act, a medical cannabis legalization bill that stalled during this year’s legislative session, will likely resurface at the Statehouse next year, according to a Spectrum News 1 report.
The legislation, which is sponsored by Democratic State Sen. Paul Lowe and backed by Republican Sens. Bill Rabon and Michael Lee, would create a regulatory framework to allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis to patients with conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and sickle cell anemia.
Any patients in hospice care would also be eligible to access medical cannabis under the proposal, Spectrum News 1 reported.
The Compassionate Care Act would establish an advisory committee under the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a new commission, to oversee the state’s medical cannabis industry, according to the news outlet.
The new commission would then be charged with awarding 10 licenses to vertically integrated medical cannabis businesses, which could open up to four dispensaries each, Spectrum News 1 reported. The Compassionate Care Act would require each licensee to open at least one retail outlet in a Tier 1 county, the poorest counties in the state.
Other provisions in the bill would bar dispensaries from advertising, according to the news outlet.
The Compassionate Care Act cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee once in July and again in August. The legislation also passed the Senate Finance Committee and the Health Care Committee this summer before lawmakers ultimately decided to postpone a full Senate vote until 2022 in order to focus on the state budget and redistricting process during the final months of this year.
The North Carolina Senate is now expected to take up the bill during the 2022 short session, which kicks off in the spring.
“We’re planning on picking up the rest and getting it through during the short session,” Lowe told Spectrum News 1.
While the legislation has received bipartisan support in the Senate, House majority whip Rep. John Hardister told Spectrum News 1 that he while he supports the bill, he has not done a vote count to gauge broader support in that chamber.